1 CD - 438 153-2 - (p) 1993


William BYRD (1543-1623) Pavan "Ph. Tregian" & Galliard Harpsichord
7' 16" 1

My Lady Nevell's Ground
5' 14" 2
Robert JOHNSON (c.1583-1633) Alman Harpsichord
0' 47" 3
Peter PHILIPS (1560/1-1628) Passamezzo Pavana & Galiarda Passamezzo
13' 12" 4
Thomas MORLEY (1557/8-1602) Fantasia Harpsichord
5' 31" 5
John BULL (?1562/3-1628) Duchess of Brunswick's Toy Virginal
1' 02" 6

Duke of Brunswick's Alman
1' 48" 7

John Lumley's Pavan & Galliard Harpsichord
6' 44" 8

2' 32" 9
William RANDALL (b. ?1604) Galliard "Can she excuse my wrongs?" - (John Dowland) Harpsichord
2' 30" 10
Giles FARNABY (c.1563-1640) A Toye Harpsichord
1' 17" 11
Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Fantasia Harpsichord
1' 09" 12
Thomas TOMKINS (1572-1656) Pavan & Galliard of 3 parts Harpsichord
3' 06" 13
Orlando GIBBONS Fantasia
3' 15" 14
Giles FARNABY Fantasia Harpsichord
3' 41" 15

Gustav LEONHARDT, Harpsichord & Virginal


Luogo e data di registrazione
Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk, Haarlem (The Netherlands) - Ottobre 1992

Registrazione: live / studio

Artist and reppertoire production

Stef Collignon

Recording producer
Hein Dekker

Balance engineer

Hein Dekker

Recording engineer

Jean-Marie Geijsen

Tape editor

Hans Meijer

Art direction

George Cramer

Prima Edizione LP

Edizione CD
Philips | LC 0305 | 438 153-2 | 1 CD - durata 59' 47" | (p) 1993 | DDD

Cover Art

"Il Ballo della Vita humana", painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), Wallace Collection, London.


In the development of keyboard music in the sixteenth century, England played a decisive role. Cabezón in Spain and Sweelinck in The Netherlands were both making important contributions, but England produced a whole host of composers for the keyboard, more specifically (unlike their foreign contemporaries) for the harpsichord or virginals rather than the organ, and predominantly secular, not liturgical. There were transcriptions of popular tunes of the day, and sets of variations (sometimes very extensive and elaborate) on them; madrigal arrangements; small character pieces; contrapuntal fantasies or “fancies” akin to the ricercare; and dance movements, chief of which were pavanes and galliards. These two, paired and sometimes thematically connected, were thus described by Morley: [the pavan is] “a kind of staide musicke, ordained for grave dauncing, and most commonlie made of three straines, whereof everie straine is plaid twice... After every pavan we usually set a galliard (a kind of musicke made out of the other)... a lighter and more stirring kinde of dauncing." A number of valuable collections of keyboard music are known, the most important being the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, a volume of almost 300 pieces in the hand of Francis Tregian the younger, a Cornish Catholic who was detained in the Fleet Prison for his religious beliefs from 1609 until his death ten years later: he spent his time copying existing pieces - mostly by fellow recusants, exiles and friends. His book eventually passed to Richard, Viscount Fitzwilliam, and thence to the Cambridge museum that bears his name. Another volume, My Ladye Nevells Booke, contains over 40 pieces by Byrd, who lived only a few miles from the home of Sir Edward Nevill (later Lord Bergavenny) and his wife Rachel.
Tregian and Lady Nevill are commemorated in the items by Byrd which begin the present programme. William Byrd, who at the age of 20 became organist of Lincoln cathedral and a decade later of the Chapel Royal, was held in the highest admiration by his contemporaries (Morley said that he “was never without reverence to be named”), and such was his reputation that a blind eye was turned to his Roman Catholicism. His large output included both Masses and Anglican services, motets and anthems, vocal collections, music for viols, and well over 100 keyboard pieces. There is no thematic link between the pair of dances inscribed to Tregian, [1] and the galliard is altogether simpler in style than the pavan, in the repeats of whose sections there is much imitation between the voices. In the brilliant piece for Lady Nevill [2], which appears to date from 1590, there are six variations on the ground, which is itself complex, consisting of eight iterations of a two-bar cell (four in D and four in G) followed by a four-bar cell played twice. In the fifth variation there is a change of rhythm, and the final variation ends in a flurry of semiquavers.
By far the most flamboyant of the writers for virginals, and its most virtuosic player, was John Bull. After a few years as organist of Hereford Cathedral (to which he too had been appointed when only 20) he joined Byrd, his senior by 20 years, as an organist at the Chapel Royal, where as a boy he had been chorister. He was greatly favoured both by Queen Elizabeth and by James I, to whose children he was musical tutor, but at the age of 50 he fled the country. ostensibly for religious reasons (he had become a Roman Catholic) but more urgently to escape punishment on charges of flagrant immorality; he spent the rest of his days in voluntary exile in Brussels and Antwerp, where he became cathedral organist. In l60l he had spent a pleasant time at the court of Brunswick, where the young duke and his consort were enthusiastic musical amateurs, and Bull‘s tributes to his hosts [6]-[7] (that to the duchess has the superscription “Most sweet and fair") are both simple pieces presumably intended for them to ay. On the other hand, the pavan for Lord Lumley [8], with its volatile scalic runs, gives some indication of Bull’s extrovert virtuosity (though its melodic charm should not be overlooked); and it also shows his disregard for conventional phrase lengths, since although its third strain is of the usual eight bars, the first and second strains are each of 11. The constant canonic interplay in the thematically independent galliard illustrates his contrapuntal ingenuity, for which he was famous. The dedication is also significant, for John, the first Baron Lumley, a favourite of Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned for four years for his involvement in the Ridolfi plot to overthrow Elizabeth’ government. The short Fantasia [9] is entirely constructed on the initial five-bar figure.
Another Roman Catholic who went into voluntary exile because of his religion, and later even took holy orders, was Peter Philips, who had been a fellow student with Francis Tregian at the Jesuit seminary in Douai, and who was briefly imprisoned for his implication in a conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth but released for lack of evidence. He then went to Antwerp and Brussels in the service of the Archduke Albert, where he was later joined by John Bull. He was very highly regarded as a musician, though his erudite Italianate style met with some criticism. The passamezzo [4] (Shakespeare's “passy-measures") was one of a number of common chord sequences used as grounds upon which variations were written for a faster version of the pavan. The example by Philips, in which the lengthy ground occurs seven times, is densely contrapuntal in texture and technically extremely demanding on the player: in the sixth variation the rhythm changes to a triple sub-beat. The galliard, on the same ground, is rather less complex, but the last two of its ten variations are headed “Saltarella."
Bearing in mind the politico-religious undercurrents of the time, the words of Dowland's ayre Can she excuse my wrongs set by William Randall [10], an organist and lay clerk in the Chapel Royal and at Exeter Cathedral - which Dowland himself arranged for viols as The Earl of Essex Galliard - are particularly significant. Though connected with the queen's rebellious favourite Robert Devereux, they were also applicable to Dowland’s own case. At the age of 20 he had become a Roman Catholic and found his religion a bar to advancement; after staying with the Duke of Brunswick he had fallen in with a number of English recusants on the Continent, but took alarm at their treasonable plots, which he denounced to Elizabeth's secretary of state Sir Robert Cecil, with a view to regaining favour at home. Randall, like Dowland, treats the song as a galliard, with each strain followed by a decorated repeat: the third strain follows the original in quoting the very popular folk song The woods so wild.
Like Dowland, Thomas Morley, a pupil of Byrd's, had a hand in political intrigue. After moving from Norwich Cathedral to St Paul’s as organist, he seems to have been employed as an informer in the Low Countries, and though ostensibly a Roman Catholic sent a letter to the Dean of St Paul's warning him of the sedition planned by recusants there. Though chiefly noted for his canzonets and madrigals, his keyboard music, as in the present clearly structured Fantasia, shows considerable fluency.
Two of the composers represented here, both Anglicans, probably owe their inclusion in Tregian‘s anthology to their Cornish ancestry. Giles Farnaby, a joiner and keyboard instrument builder, is chiefly remembered for his charming miniatures, like his Toye [11] in two strains, each repeated with a variant) and the transcription of an Alman by James I’s lutenist Robert Johnson (who wrote music for many plays, including works by Shakespeare, Webster and Ben Jonson). In large forms he is less at ease, with awkward key shifts, but the present Fantasia [15] also contains some surprising chromaticisms and an allusion to Dowland‘s Lachrymae.
Thomas Tomkins, one of the last virginalists, also came of Cornish stock. A pupil of Byrd’s, he spent his life as organist of Worcester Cathedral, although he also held a titular appointment to the Chapel Royal. Besides music of his own, much of it deeply expressive, he assembled a collection (published posthumously) of works for the Anglican church. His Pavan and Galliard of Three Parts [13] breaks with the normal tradition not only by not providing decorated repeats of the strains but, more fundamentally, by the pavan being in triple time.
A colleague of Tomkins at the Chapel Royal was his junior by 11 years, Orlando Gibbons, who became organist there at the age of 21 and later moved to Westminster Abbey. He was widely praised as the most brilliant musician of his generation, and as a player “the best hand in England." The exact reverse of Farnaby, he excelled in extended works and the opening of his magnificent Fantasia in C [14] reveals his ability to build small thematic cells into mounting expressive phrases.
© 1993 Lionel Salter